Dogon Iron Ginna Altar Figures

Dogon iron Ginna figures like these were kept next to altars within the Ginna of a Dogon village.

Dogon Ginna Figures

Tribe: Dogon

Origin: Mali

Approx Age: 19th Century

Materials: Iron

Dimensions cm: 21 tall and 18 tall

Ref. Number: 1332 – 1333


A pair of anthropomorphic Dogon iron Ginna altar figures, very heavily libated from altar offerings leaving this very encrusted patina. The taller figure has facial features that are quite visible, the smaller one doesn’t but looks to have a ring around its neck. These were collected by a Dutch collector in the 1970’s who was working in Dogon villages fitting irrigation systems for them.

Provenance: Ex Lampevelden Collection, Netherlands.



Small Dogon iron figures were normally placed upright near or next to the alter of the Ginna, the Ginna is the large family house of the village (Gina Na or Gina Da). These forged iron figures exhibit the technical skill and artistry that Dogon blacksmiths brought to their work. They would do the smelting to get the iron from iron ore, then heat and hammer out both the tools and weapons used and the important ritual objects.

Dogon art is primarily sculpture. Dogon art revolves around religious values, ideals, and freedoms. Dogon sculptures are not made to be seen publicly, and are commonly hidden from the public eye within the houses of families, sanctuaries, or kept with the Hogon . The importance of secrecy is due to the symbolic meaning behind the pieces and the process by which they are made.

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